BERKELEY - One major difference for Sonny Dykes going through his second Signing Day compared with his first: He actually knows the student-athletes that he’s signing.
OK, we’re exaggerating a little bit. But while this is Dykes’ second National Letter of Intent Day with Cal, it’s the first that culminates a true recruiting cycle. Dykes took over the program on Dec. 5, 2012 and had less than two months until Signing Day in 2013. This time, he has been along for the ride for the entire process.
“It obviously went much more smoothly,” Dykes said this morning in his office as the last couple of faxes made their way to Berkeley. “We knew the kids a lot better. We had a chance to build relationships with them. It was an ongoing process.”
While Dykes knew a lot about Cal when he took the job, he obviously knows a lot more now. He’s now had over a year to learn about the campus, the program and the community, and that helped him and his staff go through the recruiting process this time around.
“I think it got us focused on the kind of kids we want to bring into the program,” Dykes said. “We were able to recruit the caliber of kids we were able to recruit because of what they saw in this university and the potential they saw in the program. We had to sell potential a little bit, but that’s OK. They can see the commitment to facilities and they can see the kind of atmosphere we’ve created in the program and the culture we are trying to build. I think that sells the kids and parents. We feel good about our class.”
In a way, today marks the end of Dykes’ first year at Cal. Although he’s actually been here 14 months, Signing Day is the culmination of a cycle. The football calendar is dotted with benchmarks, from spring practice, to training camp to the season and today. In a way, Signing Day puts the previous year in the past and pulls the trigger on the future.
“You get to hit the reset button after today,” Dykes said. “It’s kind of the end of the year because recruiting is so important. I think it’s the first time in over a year that we can exhale a little bit. Recruiting starts up again right away and we’re well underway with our ’15 class. But it does give you an opportunity to see what we can do here and what the potential is here at Cal, especially when the wins on the field start happening. It’s very exciting and makes us all very optimistic about the future.”